Parliament has tasked Government to investigate the actions of security agents in the alleged torture of Members of Parliament and some individuals during the Arua Municipality by-elections in August.
The allegations were detailed in a report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the investigations into the condition of MPs and other suspects arrested in the run-up to the by-election for Arua Municipality. The report was presented by Hon. Jovah Kamateeka (NRM, Mitooma district) on behalf of the Committee Chairperson Doreen Amule during a plenary sitting on Wednesday, 05 September 2018.
The Committee recommended that individuals and state institutions that were involved in the derogation of human rights and dignity be punished.
“The military and other errant state functionaries that are complicit in violating the law and eroding human rights and dignity should account for their actions,” the report reads in part.
Members of Parliament expressed mixed reactions to some of the recommendations, with some tasking Government to adhere to the recommendation to prosecute the security agents involved.
The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, told MPs that Government needed to be given time to investigate the matter citing the example of former Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, who is facing trial in the Military Court.
“I propose that the House resolves that those individuals that are complicit should be investigated, prosecuted and punished,” said Oulanyah.
He added that the Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda, would have to report to the House on the actions taken within one month.
Earlier during the debate, the Prime Minister said the report had what he called ‘biased and unsubstantiated opinions’.
“We needed the committee to visit the initial site of the problem… I have not seen a report of this committee talking with President Museveni who was the first victim pelted with stones,” Ruhakana Rugunda said.
The Prime Minister commended the prompt action of security organs that contained the situation in Arua and Kampala, adding that Government would leave no stone unturned in its investigations.
“I am glad that this has been a test where we see the organs of the state including the judiciary, executive and legislature performing their work well,” added Rugunda.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Betty Aol Ocan, however, recounted her visit to the two MPs saying they suffered injuries inflicted upon them by security agents.
“We went to Makindye Barracks and were chased away like dogs. We then went to Lubaga Hospital and found Hon Zaake who had been tortured,” Aol noted.
She said the committee report was authentic in its findings given that she and other MPs had studied the situation themselves, albeit the limitations in access to the aggrieved MPs.
Lwemiyaga MP Hon. Theodore Ssekikubo said since the two legislators were given clearance to travel abroad for treatment, it was evidence that they had suffered torture.
“We are aware that the MPs were referred abroad by competent doctors like Dr. Ssekitoleko of Lubaga Hospital after conducting tests on them. Government doctors who examined them at Kiruddu Hospital also gave them a go-ahead,” Ssekikubo said.
The alleged torture of some of the 26 arrested persons and MPs followed a chaotic turn of events at the last day of campaigns in the Arua Municipality by-election to replace fallen former MP Col. Ibrahim Abiriga.